THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE
(With explanatory notes for the hard of thinking)
Shut the fuck up. I've got some news.
(Editors note: do not be offended, this column follows a regular formula, and it is customary to start with something of this ilk to grab the attention and to immediately convey Summy's superiority. This is, in fact, very funny indeed.)
Uncle Summy's Ministry of Culture is in its final, agonising, trouser-filling death throes. Like a valiant cowboy with an arrow in his chest, it's time for me to gasp, "No, you go on without me. Save yourself." Before pulling the arrow out and crying out stridently "Why have you forsaken me?" Consider this then, that final pathetic cry.
Well, actually, let's not get too histrionic about this. I will be contributing a new compact, concise, erudite column, modestly entitled Uncle Summy's Wisdom Well, in which I will spew forth hilarious, pithy truths about the world we live in on a monthly basis. Also, I'll be overturning a few notions of conventional wisdom. And don't worry about the quality. It will be every bit as piss poor and unfunny, except this time it will be shorter. Good news all round then.
The reason for this change? Well, if any, it's because I took a new job as head submarine cleaner at Subs'n'scrubs, in Portsmouth Docks. I know it will surprise many of the readers to learn that us Shrubbery writers are not paid handsomely for our contributions and as such are forced to take second jobs but it's true. In fact, of the many millions of dollars generated from the banner-ad revenue only 10% is distributed among the staff, on a first threaten first serve basis. The rest of the cash goes toward Jessica Brandt's world domination enterprise; which at this stage is in its infancy. Luckily for us.
Which brings me arbitrarily onto today's lecture: the filthiest four letter word since clitorisgrit; namely WORK.
What is WORK?
Work is anything you do when you'd rather be doing something else; or so said Mark Twain. But what would he know? He frittered away his life writing simple-minded books about Huckleberry Hound and Tom Soya and, in common with most literary types, did nary a days graft in his entire gin-soaked, feet-on-the-table life. That said, he had a point. Work is everywhere. Everyone has to do it, no one wants to and yet some people think about little else. A bit like monkey shaving, then.
(Editors note: this is a "post modern" inversion of a regular Uncle Summy joke. Cleverly taking the essence of the joke and inverting it, which makes it simultaneously funny and unfunny. A neat trick if you can master it. Which he can't.)
The origins of Work
In the good old days, unless you were king, you toiled endlessly in his fields making potatoes out of packet-mix and clay, before presenting them humbly before the mighty royal deity in exchange for your being allowed to live. This made you a serf, and as such you had the following rights: the right to live, the right to toil endlessly; both rights subject to the king's many whims. It was a marvellous system, if you were king, but not entirely equitable.
At this juncture, a foolhardy, inbred, young buck from Maidstone in Kent (grimy anus of the universe) named Wat Tyler rode his horse to London and challenged the Status Quo (who were then the king's three-chord bodyguards) and King Richard the second himself,
"By Christ and Radiohead, this has gone on long enough. Me, my horse, and Duncan Dettmer demand a more egalitarian society. We demand the right to own property, the right to wear cardigans, the right to read cumbersome Saturday newspapers at 2.15 on a Sunday afternoon. These are our demands, and the whole nation will hold their breath until you say yes."
The King addressed him, "Wat," he began.
"Tchh! I said, by Christ and Radiohead, this has gone on long enough. Me, my horse, and Duncan Dettmer demand a more egalitarian society. "
"I know, I know. I was addressing you, Not asking you to repeat yourself. Are you mad or what?."
And so it went on. At first the King ignored Wat's pleas, but after some time the country began to turn red and go all funny, so the king had to relent.
PROGRESS, THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
Before the industrial revolution, most people worked for themselves or in small collectives for the common good. Of course, everyone had to pay taxes to the king, so that he could maintain his lifestyle of debauched whoring and crack-smoking, but other than that, and the disease and poverty, life was good.
Luckily, the invention of the steam-powered factory changed all that. In one fell swoop factories appeared all over the North of England, lending character to otherwise bland and uninspiring hamlets, and providing us with the world's first slums.
This progress was further enhanced by the change in people's working lives. Rather than being masters of their own destiny, and working until the job was done, or until they had enough food and wine to last them, they now had to adopt a strict regimental systematic approach to work. They had to turn up at a designated time, and work until it was time to go home. In most cases for less money.
(Editors note: there is not much humour in the previous section. This must therefore be regarded as satire. Satire doesn't have to be funny, or in this case satirical. Its presence in this piece can be justified with a brief shrug and an impatient look, accompanied by the words "it's satirical.")
PROGRESS, THE TECHNICAL ADVANCEMENTS OF OUR AGE
Even in my humble lifetime the fax machine and computer have revolutionised the way we work. In the good old days one would assure a colleague something was "in the post" which was a euphemism for "oh bugger, I forgot about that, I'll do it next Tuesday, if I can be arsed"
Not so anymore; with today's technology, it is possible to email someone a report before they even asked you to write it, and, in turn, for them to read it and comment upon it before you sent the email, rendering this particular excuse redundant. This is why lawyers refuse to accept emails as being valid basis for contract and prefer to work on paper. They'd have to do some fucking work otherwise.
Therefore, in light of all this efficiency, it is hard to see why we now work longer hours than ever before. Luckily though, in these enlightened times we still have rights. Namely the right to live, the right to toil endlessly; both rights subject to the Government's many whims. It is a marvellous system, if you are king, but not entirely equitable.
(Editors Note: This paraphrasing of the first paragraph is intended to reinforce the irony of progress. It is categorically not an example of someone lazily cutting and pasting the first paragraph of the piece in order to make up the numbers.)
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT?
WAT TYLER is the father of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler.
Work is where you go to get free coffee and stationery
Nothing is certain in this life except death and taxis.
For the last time
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